Look at Kat go! She loves soccer and track and field events, like running and jumping. She even qualified for the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. Unless you saw her using her inhaler, you would never guess that she has asthma.
Asthma is a lung problem that can make it difficult to breathe. Breathing, as you know, is pretty important when you're running a race or charging down the soccer field. Your body needs the oxygen it gets from breathing to work properly. And your body needs even more oxygen when you're exercising.
So how does Kat do it? Let's find out:
I was 8 years old and in the third grade.
My mom says I had a bad cough that sounded like a bark and it just would not go away.
I had a pin test where they injected (under my skin) tiny amounts of the stuff that can cause allergies. I had that test because allergies can cause the symptoms of asthma or make asthma worse. They also put a "sleeve" on my finger to measure the amount of oxygen in my blood. And I had to blow as hard and as long as I could into a peak flow meter so they could figure out how well my lungs work.
I did not exactly know what it meant so I did not care too much. But when I learned what it was and what it meant I was scared and thought I would not be able to play sports anymore. Luckily, I didn't have to stop.
Having to remember to take my medicines I would say is very hard, but also remembering what makes my asthma act up is pretty difficult.
[Smoke and cold air are two things that make Kat's asthma worse.]
I actually have never had a real flare-up, but when I have breathing trouble, my throat loses the moist feeling. I feel like no air will go through or down my throat, like a boulder rolled over my throat blocking air. Like someone once said about having asthma, "I feel like a fish out of water."
I follow my doctor's advice about taking my medicine.
[This includes controller medicine taken every day and "rescue" medicine she takes if she feels breathing trouble starting to happen.]
Taking my medicine has prevented me from having a big, dramatic asthma flare-up. Whenever I feel breathing trouble about to start, I take a puff on my inhaler. I do this even in the middle of a soccer game, which I really don't like but know I need to do!
Before every sporting event I take two puffs, one dose, on my inhaler. And because cold air will make my asthma worse, I wear a ski mask over my face when I'm outside or competing. I wear the mask because it warms the air before I breathe it.
Knowing when to take my inhalers and remembering which one is for sports is challenging, but it is a lot easier now. Also, coming out of a soccer game to take my medicines is hard because I love to play the game.
I do not let sports take over my life, and if I can't breathe easily, I will take a break from the sport or go back to my doctor and see what is wrong. Also, my coaches are supportive and make sure I use my inhalers when I need to.
The people on my soccer team always ask me if I am OK.
That asthma is not contagious.
Go for it, but make sure it is OK with your doctor. And if your asthma acts up, remember it is OK to take a break during practice, a game, or race.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011
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